Sean Cavanagh was dramatically sent off as Mayo edged Tyrone by 0-13 to 0-12 in a gripping All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park. The Tyrone talisman received a second yellow card late in the game for a high challenge on Aidan O’Shea and that gave Mayo the impetus to edge out the Ulster champions in a match that was level nine times.
After a tentative opening, O’Shea opened the scoring with a wonderful point from outside the 45-yard line in the seventh minute. Niall Sludden soon kicked Tyrone level before O’Shea hurt Tyrone once again as he batted a high ball into the path of Andy Moran to slot over and Cillian O’Connor added a free to stretch the lead to two.
Tyrone hit back through Mattie Donnelly as he hit two points in two minutes to level the match. Both teams were finding their rhythm at this stage and O’Connor showed his class with a brilliant score from distance before Ronan O’Neill hit back for Tyrone.
O’Connor edged Mayo back in front after a neat one-two with Moran before Tyrone responded with three points in a row with two frees from Peter Harte and Donnelly’s third score of the afternoon. Mayo answered with scores from O’Connor and Colm Boyle to send the teams in level at the break.
The match was a contentious affair throughout and tempers threatened to boil over when the sides emerged from the tunnel as Lee Keegan and Sean Cavanagh got involved in an off-the-ball scuffle which resulted in yellow cards for both. It was an incident which came back to haunt Cavanagh.
Mayo got the best possible start to the second half when Aidan O’Shea won the ball from the kick-off and surged forward before laying off to Cillian O’Connor to convert.
Tyrone answered through Peter Harte but Mayo hit straight back through substitute Tom Parsons – on at half-time for Alan Dillon – and were two in front when O’Connor converted another free.
Tyrone responded by kicking the next three scores Conor McAliskey slotted over two frees and Peter Harte gave the Ulster champions the lead with a brilliant score from distance.
Keegan brought the sides level once again with a terrific score with his left foot from a narrow angle before the game’s pivotal moment came.
O’Shea was driving through the Tyrone defence and Cavanagh came in with a high tackle that caught the Mayo star around the neck.
Cavanagh, who has openly pondered retirement after this season, looked distraught as he exited the field in what might be his last ever game in Tyrone colours. O’Connor added insult to injury by converting the resulting free to edge Mayo back in front.
Tyrone lifted themselves and managed to draw level as Darren McCurry held his nerve to convert a free.
But once again Mayo found an answer and this time it proved to be a match-winning one. Keegan, who was excellent, slotted over from 35 yards for his second score of the half.
Tyrone had two excellent chances to level the game as first Niall Morgan kicked a free from 50 yards just wide and then seconds later McCurry pushed an effort from out near the left sideline just right of the target.
Mayo held on to advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals for the sixth year in a row and set themselves up for a clash with Tipperary.
Tyrone: N Morgan, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, T McCann, J McMahon, R McNabb, C Cavanagh, M Donnelly (0-03), C McShane, N Sludden (0-01), P Harte (0-04, 2f), C McAliskey (0-0-2, 2 frees), S Cavanagh, R O’Neill (0-01, f).
Subs: R Brennan for McMahon (22), D McCurry (0-01, f) for O’Neill (42), M Bradley for McShane (46), K McGeary for McAliskey (61), J Munroe for McNabb (65), P McNulty for Sludden (68)
Mayo: D Clarke, B Harrison, K Higgins, L Keegan (0-02), C Boyle (0-01), P Durcan, K McLaughlin, S O’Shea, D Vaughan, A Dillon, A O’Shea (0-01), D O’Connor, J Doherty, A Moran (0-01), C O’Connor (0-07, 4f).
Subs: T Parsons (0-01) for Dillon (h-t), C O’Shea for Vaughan (54), C Barrett for Boyle (57), E Regan for Moran (61), C Loftus for Doherty (65), S Coen for D O’Connor (68).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).